Thank You, Eric

Eric Maynard, a member of The Mohegan Tribe, just concluded a successful internship with the Yale Indian Papers Project.

Beginning in June and running through October, his primary responsibilities included learning the workings of our Mukurtu-based Native Northeast Portal platform.  To that end, Eric participated in a number of tutorial and training sessions with Project staff which prepared him to create, edit, and publish Digital Heritage Items (DHI) associated with participating Massachusetts Native communities on the Project’s platform.

These DHIs (combinations of document images, metadata, and transcriptions of primary source documents) could then be shared with tribal representatives for review before being made public.

In 2016, Eric interned with the Project, with his work then focusing on document transcription.  This, together with his library science background, made the transition to DHI creation and editing a natural next step.

At times, the handwriting of the texts may have seemed daunting.  Nevertheless, Eric’s editorial skills allowed him to transcribe the document accurately.  (Click on the images above to see them better.)

Another of Eric’s tasks was to develop and implement a list of keywords for the creation of DHI metadata.

The metadata and scholarly transcription process focused on legal petitions and resolves, ranging from the late 17th Century through the early 19th Century. Specifically, Eric’s transcription work encompassed documents relating to Chappaquiddick, Mashpee, Aquinnah, and Stockbridge communities.

Often these documents described land and property disputes, with Native peoples requesting legal and monetary relief and justice from the Massachusetts General Court. While it is not wholly evident from these documents that justice was regularly served, the responses from the Court were typically in favor of the aggrieved Natives.

Eric found the internship to be enriching as an educational experience, and on a regional and personal level. As a resident of Southeastern Connecticut, Eric felt that the internship gave him a more informed sense of Massachusetts local histories and Native and Colonial government-to-government outcomes.

The Editors want to thank Eric for his hard work and look forward to other opportunities to collaborate with him in the future.


American History, 2018

This year there is much to consider at Thanksgiving time.

We suggest you watch Real America w Jorge Ramos’ recent podcast episode: The Untold Story of Thanksgiving.

It highlights a modern issue that has historical underpinnings.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe received federal acknowledgment in 2007.  In 2015, President Barack Obama’s Department of the Interior placed 321 acres of land into trust for the tribe declaring it the tribe’s sovereign reservation.

Land in trust is a special status in which the federal government holds the title to the property and allows the tribe to make its own decisions on how to develop the tax-exempt land and its natural resources.

The U.S. Supreme Court of the United States recently held that in order for the federal government to take land into trust in behalf of a tribe, the tribe had to be under federal jurisdiction at the time of the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act in 1934.

After the Mashpee land was taken into trust, some Massachusetts residents who opposed the tribe’s plans for a resort casino filed suit against the tribe, challenging their “Indianness”.  In 2016, a federal judge held that the Mashpee did not qualify as “Indian” under the 1934 Act and ordered the Department to reconsider its decision recognizing the reservation.  The U.S. Department of the Interior, under the current administration, decided in early September that it would not dispute the judge’s decision and reversed its 2015 determination.

Through this decision, the Mashpee’s sovereignty is restricted as is the tribe’s ability to exercise meaningful self-governance. Moreover, its reservation is also threatened with being disestablished.  Millions of dollars in funding are being lost or delayed for the tribe’s critical community service programs and emergency services.

Some suggest that the Department of the Interior’s decision marks the return of the Termination Era.  Indian law experts have suggested a decision against the tribe would represent the first time in decades a tribe had lost lands after they had been placed into trust by the U.S. government.

Since the September decision, the Mashpee community has been building awareness and support.  Earlier this year, Massachusetts Congressmen Bill Keating and Joe Kennedy proposed legislation, H.R. 5244/S. 2628, The Mashpee Reservation Reaffirmation Act, to protect the tribe’s reservation, preventing further legal challenges.  On Wednesday, November 14, the Mashpee organized a protest march and rally in Washington, D.C., to gather support for it.

In a speech that explained what a loss of sovereignty would mean to her community — the loss of funds for education, housing, and natural resources — Mashpee Vice Chair, Jessie Little Doe Baird explained the urgency of the matter:

“I … want to say that I stand here not only on behalf of my people, but the people that came before us and the 127 tribes that got their federal acknowledgment after 1934 … the other 127 tribes that they’re going to come for if we don’t put a stop to this right now.

After the event, the tribe encouraged people to call their representatives in Congress and urge them to support the Act.

Image of Mashpee protest in D.C., courtesy of The Mashpee Enterprise

Our other Thanksgiving posts can be found here:


A Journey from Mashpee

This December brings to a close another successful semester of the Yale Indian Papers Project’s Native Internship Program.  This year’s interns, Eric Maynard (Mohegan) and Danielle Hill (Mashpee), assisted the Project with document transcription, metadata development, record creation, and various other aspects of the scholarly editing and publication process.

Last week Danielle made the journey from Mashpee, Massachusetts to the Yale campus in New Haven to visit with Project editors but also used the time to view selected Native materials at two of the University’s Libraries.

Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library, put together an assortment of Native American legal materials for us to look through — among them, law texts from the Cherokee, an original Choctaw Protest text, and Muscogee Nation session laws written in the Creek language and several manuscripts dealing with the Herring Pond Wampanoag, a community near to and culturally affiliated with the Mashpee.

One such manuscript was an eyewitness account of the theft of an Indian canoe that was sworn in open court.  The other two items were sentencings of Indian men.  In one case, the defendants were found guilty of stealing a lace handkerchief.  In the other case, three defendants had been convicted of the theft of goods cast off from a shipwreck.  All four were sentenced to bond slavery.

Currently, these materials are being processed for review by Herring Pond Wampanoag tribal representatives before being made publicly accessible on the Project’s Native Northeast Portal. Their inclusion in the YIPP corpus serves to not only highlight the richness of the Law Library’s holdings but together with materials from other contributing institutions they expand the Project’s extensive collection of legal materials.

The original intent of the visit to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library was to view some of the Ezra Stiles Papers, in particular, some of his mid-18th-century maps of Mashpee (far left).  This collection, however, is being conserved and is temporarily unavailable for viewing.  Instead, we examined an 1880 Town of Mashpee map (detail, left, in blue), which differs from the older plan by including Mashpee community members’ named home sites.  These features can be a very helpful resource while reading the Portal’s Mashpee collection of documents.










A Warm Welcome to Danielle Hill (Mashpee) Our New Native Intern for 2018

Danielle Hill (Mashpee) will be joining the Indian Papers Project staff as one of its Native Interns for 2018.

Ms. Hill has been working with tribal governments since 2010 in various capacities and departments and offers a well-rounded perspective on the needs and pertinent issues affecting tribal citizens and tribal organizations. She is dedicated to advancing the economic and educational opportunities available for underserved communities. She holds a bachelors degree in communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Sustainable Development from the SIT World Learning Graduate Institute in Vermont. Danielle was also a Commissioner with the Cape Cod Commission as the Native American Representative, a founding member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Economic Development Committee, the former Senior Planner for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and a current board member on the Native Land Conservancy. Danielle is a Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal citizen and has lived in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Washington DC, New York and Chicago specializing in Native American affairs, grant writing, grant management and program evaluation.

Supported by funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities this year, the Project’s Native Internship Program gives Native students/scholars the opportunity to work closely with staff in the editorial processing and publication of the Native documentary record.

Please Welcome Our New Project Advisory Board Members

Toby and I are very happy to announce six new members to the Project’s Advisory Board have joined over the past year.  They replace several members who have retired, taken positions as Project consultants, or whose term has expired.

The Advisory Board provides administrative direction to the Project, gives strategic advice in achieving the Project’s goals, and advocates on behalf the Project.

Please welcome the following:

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